Minneapolis (March 30, 2020) – Xcel Energy electricity and natural gas crews are taking extra safety precautions as they continue working in the field to maintain the critical infrastructure that keeps the lights on and the gas flowing to keep customers warm. The government has designated the work they do as essential, including in states where stay at home orders are in place. The critical functions employees are performing are being done in accordance with public health directives from local, state and federal authorities.
To allow crews to do their critical work, and for everyone’s safety, Xcel Energy is requesting that members of the public not approach them in the field. This helps maintain social distance to keep everyone healthy.
The company wants to assure everyone that the safety of its employees, customers and the public is always its top priority, including now in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some maintenance and other projects can be put on hold, Xcel Energy plants must continue to operate, and some work in the field must continue to ensure that systems are constructed and well maintained in order to deliver safe and reliable service to customers.
In all its work, Xcel Energy is following the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization to help prevent the spread of the virus. The company is taking extra safety measures including enhanced cleaning protocols, requiring any employee who feels sick or has symptoms to stay home with pay, limiting the number of people riding in company vehicles to job sites and maintaining social distance.
“We are taking the threat of COVID19 extremely seriously and doing all we can to protect our employees, customers and the public during this challenging time,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel Energy Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “Our men and women in the field are critical to our ability to maintain safe and reliable electricity and natural gas service for our customers and communities.”
If a crew member needs to enter someone’s home to light a pilot light, they will ask if anyone in the home is sick and ask them to remain in a separate part of the house while they are working. Xcel Energy workers who need to enter homes may wear personal protective gear, like gloves, safety glasses or a mask. They will also maintain a social distance of six feet while they are working.
Vegetation management teams may also approach customers to ask for access to their yards in order to trim trees and check on electricity poles.